Before agreeing to surf lessons with any surf school or surf instructor, ask questions. A lot of them. How long has the school and instructor been in business? What are their qualifications? Does the school and instructor have a license? Is the instructor certified in CPR and emergency water safety training? When satisfied, ask about their teaching techniques to make it productive and fun? How many students are in a session? What type of equipment do they teach on? What type of waves do they teach in? What are their realistic goals for you in their training sessions?
CHOOSING A SURFING INSTRUCTOR
Your surf instructor should have passed certification courses in CPR, first aid and/or Title 22 training (basic first aid training for lifeguards and other first responders). Some have taken EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) training – all the better. Your surf instructor ideally should have Level 1 surf instructor accreditation, the current industry standard for top surf schools, as well as at least five years experience in the waves and water – not a long time for those involved in the sport. Your instructor should be fun, patient and have great communication skills.
The surf school teaching on shore should include the basics of surfing and paddling technique, board control, wave dynamics and surf etiquette (how to work well with others in the water). The instructor should tell you ahead where he or she will be when you are in the water – behind holding your surfboard tail to guide you into the wave, sitting next to you on their own board to talk you into waves or moving between fellow classmates. A surf lesson on a sand beach with gentle and slow waves, soft top surfboards and with no more than three students per instructor is ideal.
YOU AS A SURFER
The final question for learning to surf is how prepared are you? You should be a good enough swimmer (ask your surf school or instructor how good). You should be comfortable and familiar with being in the ocean with waves and currents. You should be patient and open to instruction. It might seem more fun just to jump in the water with a surfboard and get at it, but it goes a lot better when you know how to anticipate what you, the ocean and that surfboard are going to do when you all come together. Surfing is usually not a quick sport to learn, but can be crazy good fun, enriching and addicting when approached with the right introduction.
Los Angeles Surf Schools